Holy Toledo! 1 Millionth Jeep Wrangler rolls off production line

JEEP_MILLION_06
BY GERRY MILES

One of the most iconic vehicles in the US and perhaps the world, the Jeep Wrangler, celebrated its one-millionth iteration rolling off the Toledo, Ohio production line recently. With the usual gusto, balloons, and well-deserved bravado, Jeep had a proud moment at its production line that’s well deserved.

The full presser can be read below.

Mauro Pino, Chrysler Group’s Vice President of Vehicle Assembly Operations, and Dan Henneman, Jeep Unit Chairman of UAW Local 12, drove the black 2013 JeepWrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition, bound for a customer in Sarasota, Fla., off the final line.
“Every Jeep Wrangler sold to customers around the world is born in Toledo, Ohio,” said Pino. “Since this facility opened eight years ago, the Toledo workforce has built every one of those million vehicles with pride, passion and a focus on quality. We all look forward to building the next million.”Since 1941, Jeep – the original sport-utility vehicle – has represented freedom, authenticity, adventure and passion.

“More than 600 UAW-represented workers at the Wrangler assembly plant come to work every day with a dedication unmatched in the industry,” said Zach Leroux, Plant Manager – Toledo Assembly Complex, Chrysler Group. “We all understand that we are the keepers of the Jeep legacy and we take that role very seriously. The entire team is humbled to be part of this milestone moment.”

“The Toledo workforce understands that the Jeep brand’s success is directly related to the quality of their work,” said Henneman. “They continue to rise to the challenge of meeting the demand for one of the most recognized sport-utility vehicles worldwide and demonstrating their commitment to millions of Jeep enthusiasts.”

The 2013 Jeep Wrangler is recognized and respected by top automotive influencers, garnering numerous awards including Specialty Equipment Market Association’s Hottest 4×4 SUV; Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine’s 4×4 of the Year; Texas Auto Writers Association’s Mid-Size SUV of Texas; Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Award for Compact Utility Vehicle; Kelley Blue Book’s Top 10 Best Resale Value Award; Autobytel.com’s SUV of the Year; and Four Wheeler’s Four Wheeler of the Year Award.

Connected under one roof with the North Plant, where the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee will be built this year, the Toledo Assembly Complex’s Supplier Park began production of the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited in 2006. Located on the same site as the former Stickney Plant, the complex includes body and chassis operations, produced in partnership with suppliers Kuka and Mobis, respectively. The Stickney Plant was built in 1942 and nearly two decades later, was converted to produce the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The facility became the Toledo Assembly Plant when Chrysler Corporation acquired American Motors Corporation (AMC) in August 1987. In the fall of 1997, Toledo North was built for the production of theJeep Liberty, which launched in April 2001, and later added production of the 2007 Dodge Nitro which launched in August 2006. The last Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro rolled off the line in August 2012 and December 2011, respectively. Toledo North will add 1,105 new jobs on a second shift in the third quarter, bringing total complex employment to more than 3,000.

Employees at the Toledo Assembly Plant gather 'round the one-millionth Jeep that the facility produced. (Jeep photos)

Employees at the Toledo Assembly Plant gather ’round the one-millionth Jeep that the facility produced. (Jeep photos)

Subaru Forester atop small SUV class: Consumer Reports

2014 Forester Premium 2.5

2014 Forester Premium 2.5                                                                                  Gerry Miles  photo

Consumer Reports cites superb practicality, fuel-efficiency as hard to beat

BY GERRY MILES

Well you knew an entire state couldn’t be wrong, right?

If there’s one state in New England that has a true love affair with Subaru, it’s Vermont. And perhaps in a close second place race is Maine.

Folks just like the ability of their cars to laugh at the cold weather, drive through the snow, sleet and rain with the greatest of ease while maintaining the surefootedness of a mountain goat with hiking boots.

The all-new redesigned Forester now boasts greatly increased leg room, head room, and cargo room along with a variety of engines in addition to its symmetrical all-wheel-drive. (why they’ve moved away from the tag line of ‘transferring power from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip – succinctly summarizing how the AWD works – escapes me.)

That reworking led to Consumer Reports to award the 2014 at the top of its class over the recent redesigns including the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

CR liked Subaru’s keeping its basic Forester shape that doesn’t cramp window room with sloped styling that scrubs visibility out the back. At a Subaru presentation, a rep noted that when Forester was first offered for sale in the US marketing wags in Japan proffered naming it the Turtle Top … which would not have translated very well.

“Overall, if you’re looking for a small SUV that’s very functional and fuel-efficient, the Forester is hard to beat,” said Jake Fisher, director, Consumer Reports Auto Test Center.

Also new is a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Forester now delivers better acceleration in addition to a class-leading 26 mpg overall and 35 on the highway in Consumer Reports tests. While some folks whine that the CVT is a drain on power and performance it’s hard to notice it holding the Forester back under acceleration whereby the engine doth not protest too much

CR dinged the Forester’s ride changing from “calm and cushy, but now is rather firm and jittery.” CR’s engineers also declared that the Forester isn’t as agile as the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, or Toyota RAV4. And, they deemed Subaru’s in-car infotainment “is behind the curve.”

Consumer Reports bought and tested a Forester 2.5i Premium for $26,814, which included heated front seats, a big sunroof, a backup camera, and a power driver’s seat.  Because above-average reliability is anticipated, it is CR Recommended.

Complete tests and ratings of the Forester appear on www.ConsumerReports.org today, and in the July issue of Consumer Reports.

2014 Lexus IS 250 begins at $36k, 350 at 40k

2014_Lexus_IS_250_016
BY GERRY MILES

The original IS 250 was a small, pocket rocket that was a blast to drive and with its shorter status reminded me of the tiny runabouts that gained recognition with the Nissan Sentra SE-R in its first iteration. It seemed that the folks at Lexus has tried to infuse, and succeeded, in the seat of the pants thrill that interactive driving provides with a small, sporty package.

Zoom ahead to 2013 and the 2014 model will arrive in showrooms this summer just shy of $36k for the RWD version and escalate from there with three packages and just eight options to customize it your way.

Power comes from a 2.5-liter, 204 hp, V-6 with 185 lb-ft. of torque in the base RWD model. Opt for AWD and you’re spending $38,485 that does not include delivery. But you’re buying a Lexus, so that’s not likely a considerable worry.
The IS 350, which produces 306 horsepower from its 3.5L V6 power plant, has an MSRP of $39,465 for RWD and $41,700 for AWD. The base price for the 2014 IS 350 is 2.1% lower than the model it replaces.

standard features

The new IS  carries standard features such as HID headlamps, L-shaped LED daytime running lights, Drive Mode Select, paddle shifters, a dual zone climate control system, a next-generation Remote Touch Interface, Display Audio, a color 4.2 inch TFT multi-information display and 10 airbags.

In an industry first, the all-new multimedia system delivers real-time traffic and weather information without a subscription.  Lexus claims that $1,400 in previously optional equipment has been made standard for the 2014 IS.

Premium, Luxury and F SPORT packages will be available across the model range.  The available Premium Package ($1,050 for RWD models) includes LED headlamps and heated and ventilated front seats.  The Luxury Package ($3,665 for RWD models) includes Premium Package features plus a perforated leather-trimmed interior, linear wood trim, electrochromic exterior mirrors with reverse tilt, rain-sensing wipers, driver seat memory, a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, center stack knee pads and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

A revamped F SPORT Package ($3,115 for IS 250 RWD and $3,620 for IS 350 RWD) offers a unique full-mesh grille and front bumper, LED headlamps, 18” split 5-spoke wheels, front sport seats, and a more aggressive sport-tuned suspension. Inside, all F SPORT models feature the attention-grabbing center-mounted tachometer with moving bezel adopted directly from the LFA. The IS 350 F SPORT adds standard Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with a Sport S+ drive mode.   For the first time, the F SPORT package is also available for IS AWD models.

2014 IS Pricing:

Model Drive Type Engine Transmission MSRP*
IS 250 RWD 2.5L V6 6AT $35,950
IS 250 AWD 2.5L V6 6AT $38,485
IS 350 RWD 3.5L V6 8AT $39,465
IS 350 AWD 3.5L V6 6AT $41,700

Available Packages:

Package IS 250 RWD IS 250 AWD IS 350 RWD IS 350 AWD
Premium Package $1,050 $610 $1,050 $610
Luxury Package $3,665 $3,225 $3,665 $3,225
F SPORT Package $3,115 $2,675 $3,620 $3,180
Optional Equipment
Navigation System $2,085
Navigation System with Mark Levinson $3,225
Backup Monitor $350
Power Rear Sunshade $210
18” Wheel Package with All-season tires $935
18” Wheel Package with Summer tires $935
Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) $400
Intuitive Park Assist $500

*MSRP does not include a delivery, processing and handling fee of $895.

Scion lists tC and iQ pricing, 10 series line

Scion_10_Series_Family_001-1
BY GERRY MILES

Special editions in the auto world are nothing new. In fact, I almost expect a special edition with an outdoor company name — think Eddie Bauer and LL Bean — or other association that promotes cross-branding and promotions.

Scion just announced a limited production series of its Scion line – called the Scion 10 Series that includes spiffs from the tC and iQ to the ’13 xD, xB and FR-S to celebrate the line’s 10th anniversary. Why not include Bo Derek who was the perfect 10 in the 1979 movie before Mary Lou Retton even took home the gold at the 1984 LA Olympics?

The Scion 10 Series includes enhancements to the new tC and iQ as well as to the 2013 models of the xD, xB and FR-S in celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary.

2014_Scion_tC_001

2014 Scion tC
The 2014 tC debuted recently at the New York Auto Show with aggressive styling, an upgraded interior and a peformance-based driving experience via an auto tranny that is said to change gears nearly twice as fast as its predecessor. It also boasts Dynamic Rev Management technology.

The tC also comes with the all-new Scion Standard Display Audio, featuring a 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen, Bluetooth® compatibility, HD Radio™ technology and steering wheel-mounted controls.

The MSRP for the Scion tC will be $20,210 for the automatic transmission model and $19,210 for the manual transmission. It will arrive in showrooms in June.

Bespoke Details and Pricing
The tC now offers the all-new Scion BeSpoke Premium Audio system featuring Aha™. In addition to full navigation services, this upgraded system connects with compatible smartphones through Aha to access 30,000 free audio stations, including audiobook stations, sports, news, entertainment and Scion’s own signature station featuring a lineup of its 17 music channels for $1,198.

2014 Scion iQ

The 2014 iQ carry over adds the Display Audio found in the 2014 tC. The MSRP for the 2014 Scion iQ is $15,665.

Limited Production Scion 10 Series

The limited-production Scion 10 Series features a unique version painted Silver Ignition, with matching silver seat belts and carries through the anniversary theme through unique interior and exterior touches. All Scion 10 Series models will feature the Scion Standard Display Audio with 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen.

Scion will produce 10,000 Scion 10 Series vehicles total, which will begin arriving in dealerships in June.

Scion 10 Series 2014 tC
The tC comes with premium stitching on the steering wheel and seats, projector-beam headlights, LED accent lighting, 18-inch gloss dark gray alloy wheels, an electroluminescent panel above the radio, and front and rear locator badges that light up when the car is unlocked. A side skirt with a Scion badge is included, along with a solar-powered illuminated shift knob and front, rear and cargo Scioncarpet mats. The MSRP for the Scion 10 Series tC will be $22,440 for the automatic transmission and $21,440 for the manual transmission.

Scion 10 Series 2014 iQ
The iQ comes with projector-beam headlights, 16-inch graphite gray alloy wheels, two electroluminescent panels on the center console, front and rear locator badges, a solar-powered illuminated shift knob and Scion carpet mats throughout the car. The MSRP for the Scion 10 Series iQ will be $17,850.

Scion 10 Series 2013 FR-S
The FR-S comes with dual auto A/C, HID headlights, LED DRL accent lighting, 17-inch standard wheels, a frameless rearview mirror, a dashboard electroluminescent panel, front and rear locator badges, a solar-powered illuminated shift knob (only available on the automatic transmission model) and a Scion carpet mat in the cargo area. The MSRP for the Scion 10 Series FR-S will be $28,675 for the automatic transmission and $27,425 for the manual transmission.

Scion 10 Series 2013 xB
The xB comes with projector beam headlights, LED accent lighting, 16-inch graphite gray alloy wheels, a dashboard electroluminescent panel, front and rear locator badges, a solar-powered illuminated shift knob and Scion carpet mats throughout the car. The MSRP for the Scion 10 Series xB will be $20,160 for the automatic transmission and $19,210 for the manual transmission.

Scion 10 Series 2013 xD 
The xD comes with premium stitching on the seats, multi-reflector halogen headlights, 16-inch graphite gray alloy wheels, an electroluminescent panel above the radio, a rear vehicle locator badge, a solar-powered illuminated shift knob and Scion carpet mats in the front, rear and cargo areas. The MSRP for the Scion 10 Series xD will be $18,955 for the automatic transmission and $18,155 for the manual transmission.

Scion MSRPs do not include a $755 delivery, processing and handling (DPH) for all Scion models.

Scion Pricing Chart

Model # Grade MSRP
6223 SCION tC 3-DOOR HATCHBACK (MT) $19,210
6222 SCION tC 3-DOOR HATCHBACK (AT) $20,210
6242 SCION iQ 3-DOOR HATCHBACK $15,665
Scion 10 Series Editions
6229 SCION tC 3-DOOR HATCHBACK (MT) $21,440
6228 SCION tC 3-DOOR HATCHBACK (AT) $22,440
6248 SCION iQ 3-DOOR HATCHBACK $17,850
6239 SCION xD (MT) $18,155
6238 SCION xD (AT) $18,955
6209 SCION xB (MT) $19,210
6208 SCION xB (AT) $20,160
6259 SCION FR-S 2-DOOR COUPE (MT) $27,425
6258 SCION FR-S 2-DOOR COUPE (AT) $28,675

All prices listed above exclude the delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee

Edmunds.com finds price ranges on indentical cars across USA

BY GERRY MILES

OK, it might seem to be that big of a shock that a car with a certain option package and setup sells for more in a certain region of the country than another – think pickups in Texas and cars with air conditioning in the South and parts of the Southwest – but the folks at Edmunds.com have come up with sizeable differences that would greatly alter your payment plan.

“A new or used car in New York won’t necessarily sell for the same price as a similar car in California,” says Edmunds.com Pricing Analyst Richard Arca. “Car buyers should be aware that, along with regional incentives, factors like increased local demand and even local weather conditions can affect car prices within a market. It’s not too different from what we see every day in the fluctuation of gas prices.”

For example, Edmunds.com found that the TMV® for a Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew in Chicago is $31,942, while in Atlanta, it’s $36,080. The price discrepancy is mostly attributed to a $5,000 cash incentive available in Chicago versus a $500 cash incentive offered in Atlanta.
True Market Value® (TMV®) Pricing of Top-Selling Vehicles 

(as of May 7, 2013)

Segment

Vehicle^

Most Expensive Market*

TMV® Price

Least Expensive Market*

TMV® Price

Truck

2013 F-150 XLT SuperCrew 6.6 ft. Bed 4×4 5.0 V8

Atlanta

$36,080

Chicago

$31,942

Midsize

2013 Toyota Camry LE Sedan Automatic 4-cyl.

New York City

$22,355

Dallas

$20,061

SUV

2013 Ford Escape SE 2WD 1.6 L Turbo 4-cyl.

Chicago

$22,859

San Francisco

$22,419

Compact

2013 Toyota Corolla LE Sedan Automatic 4-cyl.

San Francisco

$17,854

Dallas

$16,287

Luxury

2013 Mercedes C250 Sport Sedan 1.8 L Turbo 4-cyl.

Chicago, Houston (tie)

$33,624

Philadelphia

$32,036

^Best-selling vehicle within the given segment, 2013 YTD
* Only the top 10 U.S. markets were considered for this analysis

But even without taking into account regional incentives there can still be geographic price differences. The TMV® for a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport Sedan – for which Mercedes currently offers no cash incentives anywhere in the country – is almost $1600 more expensive in Houston and Chicago ($33,624) than it is in Philadelphia ($32,036).

Edmunds.com’s notes that its True Market Value® (TMV®) pricing is a powerful – and free — tool that informs car shoppers what other people in their area are paying for the same vehicles.

This piece of key information will ensure that with all of the web research car buyers do before they even set foot on a dealer’s lot to help them negotiate the price as well as how much their trade-in will be valued for.

Conversely, sellers can access Edmunds TMV® calculator to help determine the price of a used car they plan to sell privately. Edmunds.com displays the TMV® of a new car along with its invoice price (roughly what the dealer paid for it) and its manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP, also known as the “sticker price”).

Car shoppers can learn more car pricing tips and strategies at http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-to-use-tmv.html.

If you believe in “caveat emptor” that translates into “let the buyer beware” then arming yourself with more financial knowledge can never, ever hurt.

Happy Shopping.

MINI Convertible ‘boat’ plied the water at Dad Vail Regatta

Mini_DadVail
BY GERRY MILES

It’s just the kind of thing that has made Mini standout from the rest of the field, but the creatives took it one step farther this past weekend at the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuykill River.

A special one off Mini “boat” plied the waters  powered by a 6 hp outboard motor, no Pentastar or Volvo marine motor to be found.

The MINI boat was actually a fiberglass mold of the car mounted to a boat hull, bedecked with authentic MINI headlights, taillights, grille, steering wheel, badges, wheels and tires. A special effect showed the wheels rotating in the water to add to the illusion that the car was being “driven on the water.”

The Mini boat was constructed by ACI Composites Inc, in Lancaster, Pa.

“MINI is known for being unconventional, and sponsorship at an event like the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta is an opportunity to make a lasting impression with attendees, and add value to the event by further increasing its fun factor,” said Laura Towey, Regional Business Manager, MINI USA. “The MINI Convertible Boat’s appearance of actually motoring on water is so convincing that it provides guests with an amazing tale to share even after they’ve left the event.”

The boat was part of MINI USA’s sponsorship of the 75th running of the largest inter-collegiate regatta in North America, which has been celebrated every year (excluding the WWII years) since 1934.

VW’s Turbo Beetle and Jetta GLI get power boost

2013VWBeetle

The 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI® engine in the 2013 Beetle Turbo, Beetle Turbo Convertible, and Jetta GLI is now rated at 210 horsepower

• New EA888 Gen 3 engine, produced in Silao, Mexico, makes U.S. debut
• Engine offers 10 hp increase over Gen 2 powerplant
• Beetle R-Line® coupe priced from $30,135 with 6-speed manual transmission

BY GERRY MILES
If you can never have too much fun, sunshine nor money, it’s a fair guess that horsepower is on a similar list for the auto aficianado.
VW fans will rejoice at the news that the automaker’s 2.0-liter turbo and direct-injected TSI engines will have 10 more ponies than before, raising the output to 210 hp, to power the Beetle Turbo, Beetle Turbo Convertible and Jetta GLI as part of the changes on the fly for the 2013 model year.
The newer version of the award-winning EA888 2.0-liter engine is produced in a new factory in Silao, Mexico. Peak power is generated 200 revs higher in the engine range, at 5300 rpm, and torque remains unchanged at 207 pound-feet.
VW notes that the Beetle Turbo will be 2-10ths of a second faster shuttling from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The Jetta GLI picks up one-tenth of a second to scoot up to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds with a manual transmission. That time is two-tenths quicker with the DESK dual-clutch automatic with the previous Gen 2 motor, VW says.
Other engine improvements include:
a thinwall crankcase casting
exhaust headers that are integrated into the cylinder head
smaller diameter main bearings
roller bearings for the twin balancer shafts
a crankshaft that has 4 counterweights instead of 8.

R-Line

The Beetle Turbo and Beetle Turbo Convertible both receive new R-Line bumpers that feature grained black surfaces and chrome-framed turn signals at the front and a diffuser at the rear. The Jetta GLI is also upgraded with LED taillights on all three trims.

The Beetle Turbo R-Line model replaces the Beetle Turbo with Sunroof, Sound, and Navigation. Externally, the R-Line model is differentiated by the more aggressive front and rear bumpers, 19-inch “Tornado” aluminum-alloy wheels, R-Line badging, and Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs.

Inside, the R-Line model features custom stainless-steel kickplates, a steering wheel badge, and a unique “chrome vanadium” dashboard panel.

Base price for the Beetle Turbo R-Line will be $30,135 when equipped with the 6-speed manual.